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Walker v. White

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 20, 2017

Jermaine Walker, Plaintiff,
Michael White, et al., Defendants.



         Jermaine Walker brings claims against several Chicago police officers, the City of Chicago, an investigator for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and Cook County arising out of his arrest and later conviction for possession of narcotics, a conviction which was vacated after Walker was incarcerated for ten years. Defendants move to dismiss. For the following reasons, the motions to dismiss are granted in part, denied in part.

         I. Background[1]

         On the evening of February 21, 2016, college student Jermaine Walker was driving with his brother to attend a family gathering on the north side of Chicago. On the way, they stopped to make a purchase at a store. As Walker pulled out of the parking lot and onto West Lawrence Avenue, he noticed lights from a Chicago police car behind him. Walker pulled over into an alley adjacent to an apartment building, and the officers followed Walker's car into the alley.

         With his gun drawn, defendant Officer Eric Reyes approached Walker's car and asked for Walker's driver's license, insurance, and registration. Walker provided them and asked why he had been pulled over. Reyes did not provide an explanation but ordered Walker out of his car so it could be searched. Walker declined to exit his car and asked to speak to a sergeant. Defendant Michael White, a sergeant, arrived shortly thereafter and asked why Walker needed to speak to him. Walker responded that he had been pulled over for no reason and had not been given any justification for the stop. White then ordered Walker out of his car. Walker delayed, and the officers began screaming at him. Walker then exited his car. White, Reyes, and Officer Sebastian Flatley (another defendant) began beating Walker. Other officers nearby, including defendants Brian Daly, Raul Baeza, and Thomas Gaynor, either participated in beating Walker or stood by and watched other officers beat Walker.

         The apartment building adjacent to the alley had a surveillance camera mounted in the alley, in plain sight to everyone present. Walker had noticed the camera while he was in his car. When the officers started beating him, he pointed out that they were being recorded. After he was beaten, Walker was handcuffed, arrested, and charged with possession with intent to distribute narcotics within 1000 feet of a school. Walker alleges that the officers and their police reports falsely claimed that Walker had narcotics, and that the officers then inventoried narcotics to support this story.

         Walker could not afford bail, so he was detained at the Cook County Jail. He asserted his right to a speedy trial. He also asked the court to appoint him an investigator to photograph the camera in the alley and to locate witnesses who could testify that the camera was in the alley as of the date of his arrest. Walker's requested for an investigator was denied.

         The Cook County State's Attorney's Office assigned defendant Thomas Finnelly, an investigator for the office, to take photographs of the alley and any camera that might be there. Finnelly took several photographs of the alley. Although the surveillance camera was in plain view, Finnelly selectively photographed the alley to avoid including the camera in any photographs. Prosecutors relied on the officers' false police reports and Finnelly's photographs in deciding to continue to prosecute Walker. At Walker's trial, Finnelly's photographs were admitted as evidence, and Finnelly testified that he walked the entire length of the alley but did not see a camera. White and Reyes also testified that there was no camera in the alley. The inventoried drugs were also used as evidence against Walker at trial. Walker was convicted and sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.

         Walker appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in denying him an investigator. On appeal, the state argued that access to an investigator would not have altered the outcome because the evidence at trial demonstrated that no camera existed. The appellate court upheld the conviction, holding that the overwhelming evidence at trial supported a finding that there was no camera in the alley and that appointing an investigator would have achieved nothing.

         In May 2015, Walker filed a petition for post-conviction relief, presenting evidence of the camera's existence. While the petition was pending, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office investigated Walker's claim that the camera existed. After investigating, the State's Attorney's Office concluded that Finnelly, Flatley, and Reyes perjured themselves at Walker's trial. The state moved to vacate Walker's conviction and sentence, and to dismiss the charges against him. In March 2016, after Walker had been incarcerated for ten years, the Cook County Circuit Court vacated the indictment against him and dismissed all charges. A month later, the court granted Walker a Certificate of Innocence under 735 ILCS 5/2-702.

         Walker filed suit a few months later, [1], and amended his complaint. [24]. He brings claims against all defendants for: violating due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by fabricating and withholding evidence (Count I); failing to intervene, under § 1983 (Count II); conspiracy under § 1983 (Count III); Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution under § 1983 (Count IV); malicious prosecution under Illinois law (Count V); conspiracy under Illinois law (Count VI); and intentional inflection of emotional distress (Count VII). Walker also brings a Monell claim against the City as part of his due process claim (Count I), a respondeat superior claim against the City (Count VIII), and an indemnification claim against the City and Cook County (Count IX). Defendants move to dismiss all claims. [38]; [41]. Walker has since dismissed the failure to intervene claim (Count II) against Finnelly. [58] at 9.

         II. Legal Standards

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain factual allegations that plausibly suggest a right to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The court must construe all factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, but the court need not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations. Id. at 678-79.

         III. Analysis

         A. Due Process

         Walker alleges that the officers and Finnelly fabricated evidence that no camera existed in the alley and withheld evidence of the camera's existence. Walker also alleges that the officers fabricated false police reports and an inventory showing that drugs were found in Walker's possession, and that the officers withheld the true origin of those drugs.

         1. Fabric ...

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